Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) unveiled a scaled-back coronavirus relief package containing approximately $500 billion in federal aid focused on health care, education, and the economy (legislative text).
Leader McConnell announced he “will be moving immediately today [September 8] to set up a floor vote as soon as this week.” However, the legislation is unlikely to pass in the Senate. This effort is largely a political exercise to force Senate Democrats to vote against addition financial aid to help the country during the pandemic. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) criticized the bill, describing the legislation as “emaciated” and “laden with poison pills.”
As noted below, Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse on the overall price tag of the next coronavirus relief package and far apart on various policy issues. The new GOP package does not provide additional federal aid to states and localities, or the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). Democrats want to replenish the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) with $500 billion for states and $375 billion for local governments.
- May 15, 2020 – House passed the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) along party lines (208-199) (WHG summary).
- July 27, 2020 – Senate Republicans release $1 trillion HEALS Act, a compilation of individual bills authored by Republican Committee leaders (WHG summary)
- August – House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Schumer offered to “come down 1 trillion if [Republicans] come up $1 trillion” and meet around $2 trillion. Both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Leader McConnell rejected this offer.
- September 8, 2020 – Senate Republicans unveil $500 billion “targeted COVID-19 relief.”
Below, we summarize key emergency appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
- Testing, Contact Tracing, Surveillance – Provides $31 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF), to remain available through September 30, 2024, including:
- $20 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for necessary expenses of manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients, as well as the potential construction or renovation of U.S.-based manufacturing facilities;
- $6 billion for activities to plan, prepare for, promote, distribute, administer, monitor, and track coronavirus vaccines to ensure broad-based distribution, access, and vaccine coverage.
- $2 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile; and
- $2 billion – to remain available until September 30, 2022 – for grants to establish and improve state medical stockpiles.
- Vaccine, Therapeutic, and Diagnostics Development – $16 billion for the PHSSEF – to remain available until September 30, 2022 – for necessary expenses for testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment, and mitigation to monitor and suppress COVID–19, including:
- $15 billion for states, localities, territories, tribes, tribal organizations according to the formula that applied to the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement in FY 2019; and
- $500 million allocated in coordination with the Indian Health Service.
- Child Care –
- Provides $5 billion to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (available through September 30, 2021) to supplement state funding for child care assistance for families with low incomes. States may use funding to support to child care providers so that they can remain open or reopen. Additionally, states may use the funds to provide child care assistance to health care workers, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other essential workers.
- Provides $10 billion for Back to Work Child Care Grants (available through September 30, 2021), a new program that would provide grants (via states) to child care providers stay open or reopen
In addition, the legislation includes:
- $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits through December 27, 2020;
- $105 billion for schools and universities;
- $250 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), allows PPP borrowers to obtain a second round of funding, and makes several programmatic changes;
- liability protections for health care providers, businesses, and schools through at least October 1, 2024; and
- a provision converting a prior $10 billion loan (provided in the CARES Act, P.L. 116-136) to the U.S. Postal Service into a grant if certain financial conditions are met.